School safety runs into detour at council table

Last week, Penticton council missed a golden opportunity to do something both good and effective.

At issue is student safety in school zones, particularly at Parkway Elementary, where officials have requested help in purchasing a speed reader board. The school has a problem with speeding drivers and they hoped installing such a board would remind drivers to slow down.

Council could have taken immediate steps to ease the problem at Parkway. They could, for instance, have given Parkway a grant to help with the cost of a speed reader (the school has raised a substantial portion already). Or they could have sent a request to Penticton RCMP to reallocate some resources to monitor school zones, particularly Parkway. Or, council could have done both. They did neither. So Parkway isn’t getting any help from the city anytime soon.

Now, there are good ideas and there are bad ideas. Then there are ideas that are so far out in left field you have to wonder where they came from. Monitoring school zones with photo radar — which the province abolished in 2001 as costly and ineffective — is one of those ideas.

Worse, councillors added speed bumps to the discussion, not only for Parkway, but in all school zones. For school zones in residential neighbourhoods like Parkway’s, speed bumps should be considered. It’s a step in the right direction for protecting the students crossing the streets there. But it is only one part of a solution. Enforcement also needs to be part of the solution.

In the end, council sent the whole proposition, along with the original request for financial aid, to staff for review.

Vision is good, but not at the expense of accomplishing something in the here and now. Pie-in-the-sky ideas like the reintroduction of photo radar or long-term solutions like speed bumps — which will take months for city staff to review, evaluate, report back to council and implement — don’t do anything to protect children crossing the street today.


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